When we communicate, words represent (according to some attributions) only 7% of the communication. The tone and intention matter more.
Human beings have a natural negativity bias which is why we may worry all weekend when we get an email from a boss that says “We will talk on Monday.” Simple words in print with a world of possible meaning.
Intentionality and awareness is necessary when we are being honest. It is a very fine line between authenticity, sharing a personal truth, having a differing mindset, or verbally leading to insult, incivility, and aggression.
A lack of awareness about how we come across in our messages leads to more than miscommunication; it leads to bad feelings. Leaders overestimate their level of empathy in engagement while employees say that expressions of concern or praise occur far less frequently.
If the intention is to communicate your personal point of view respectfully that may be in disagreement with someone else, a team will consider other options in problem-solving and decision making.
When a disconnect arises between the words and meaning, tone, efforts, actions, and openness to diverse opinions, how you make others feel becomes more important than the words you spoke.
Think about your intention before you speak and become consciously aware of how you are expressing yourself. No attacks on the person are ever appropriate. Such behavior creates conflict and shuts down interaction.
Genuinely healthy disagreement, brainstorming, idea generation, collaboration and other methods of strategizing at work need to be about the idea, task, or goal.
Keep the intention productive, not destructive, to be sure your message gets through.